Google Online Marketing Academic Challenge – How to Compete?

I received an email from Google a few days ago, inviting me to take part in their ‘Google Online Marketing Challenge’. Being a self-confessed Google fanboy and a lover of a good academic challenge, I was immediately interested. The email provided some details about the competition, which I’ll go through in more detail below.

The Challenge

Google’s Richard Beck has curated a number of challenges for students to consider, ranging from product management to marketing analytics. The purpose of the marketing challenge, which I’ll go through in detail below, is to test and train students’ knowledge in digital marketing.

Taking part is as straightforward as creating a Google account. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a page displaying the different challenges. As a student, you’ll have a month to complete as many of the challenges as possible. The sooner you get started, the better, as the scorechess system will assess your performance against other participants, and you won’t want to miss out on any of those precious points!

Each challenge has four levels, A, B, C and D, which range from easy to difficult. Completing the level will score you points, and moving on to the next level will incrementally increase the size of the question pool and introduce more concepts. If you make it to the end of a level without answering all the questions, you’ll have to go back and review previous challenges. This is a good thing, as it means you’re thinking and learning. Also, knowing when to stop is important, as focusing on one challenge for too long can cause you to overlook other aspects of digital marketing that you may need to know about. The more you know, the better, as there’s no score for being inactive!

How Does It Work?

All the challenges are set and graded by Google. This means you’ll receive a certificate and possibly even a grade upon completion. The questions and their respective weighting are outlined below.

A few days after you submit your answers, you’ll receive an email from Google notifying you of your performance. This performance will be used to evaluate how well you did on the challenge, and you may even receive a small promotional gift from the search giant. Furthermore, as this is a continuous test, you’ll continue to be evaluated and rewarded for the rest of the year.

The Good

With a few clicks of a button, you can find and engage with a huge audience. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. You can then decide what worked and what didn’t, and make more informed decisions for the future.

The Bad

Creating a Google account and logging into it is straightforward. However, getting started can be difficult, as there are a lot of security checks and layers of privacy protection that you have to navigate through. If you’re tech-savvy and familiar with the platforms, it’s a walk in the park. However, for those of us that are less tech-savvy, it can be a little overwhelming. Also, getting the hang of Google Analytics and learning when to use it can be difficult. Inevitably, it takes time to figure out what is and isn’t working for a given campaign. At least, you’ll know this once you get used to the idea of using the platform. Finally, creating effective campaigns can be challenging, as it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, though, the tips and tricks discussed below will help get you started.

The Points

Each challenge will award you points based on how you perform on that particular challenge. For the product management challenge, you’ll receive one point for every correct answer. The points awarded for each challenge will be summed and used to evaluate your performance throughout the year. The maximum number of points you can earn is 20.

The Question Pool

On the product management challenge, the questions are grouped into four categories – Strategy, Planning, Execution and Closing. Each category has 10 questions, which are set within the scope of the larger challenge. You have a month to complete 40 questions, which will form the basis of your evaluation. The questions are designed to test your knowledge of marketing analytics and how to implement marketing strategies.

The Teams

On the product management challenge, you’ll be teamed up with another student, and your performance will be evaluated against that of another team. This is to encourage teamwork and collaboration, as well as to test your ability to work with others. If you complete all the challenges in the first month, you’ll be awarded a special recognition for completing the entire event. This could lead to more work opportunities or further education in the field. Also, as it’s a continuous test, you’ll continue to be tested and evaluated throughout the year. Even if you don’t participate in the competition, you’ll still have to register with Google to keep your account active.

The Scoring System

The scorechess system is what enables Google to track your progress through the challenge. When you register for the challenge, you’ll be asked to indicate your preferred scoring system. The scorechess system will take your preferred scoring method into consideration and provide you with a score based on how you perform on the challenge. If you don’t know what score to choose, choose the default option (Highest Score Possible). Regardless of which option you choose, your score will be based on how you perform on the challenge and will be expressed as a percentage. The maximum score is 100%.

Who Can Participate?

The good thing about the Google Online Marketing Challenge is that it’s open to anyone, from any university around the world, who has a Google account. The only requirement is that you need to be registered for at least one online class, or have equivalent knowledge and experience. Since the scoring system is based on your performance on the challenge, it’s not necessary that you’ve taken part in previous years. The only exception is if you’re applying for a job in marketing, in which case, you’ll have to declare that you’ve taken part in the previous year’s competition.

What Tools Do You Need To Compete?

As a student, you’ll need to have access to a computer or mobile device with internet connection. Fortunately, many universities provide these resources to students, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding what you need. Some of the software you may need to complete the challenges includes Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Also, don’t forget about the humble smartphone – with its countless apps and games, everyone can now be a marketer!

How Do You Prepare For The Challenge?

As a student, you’ll have a month to plan and prepare for the challenge. The sooner you get started, the better – as early starts can lead to an advantage in the competition. To maximize your chances of success, you need to ensure you’re equipped with the right tools and have the ability to apply your learning to real-world scenarios. Also, you can’t forget about the importance of sleep and nutrition, as these will help you make the most out of your preparation period. Last but not least, you need to be able to apply what you’ve learnt, as there will be a test at the end of the month, so don’t forget about those practice exams!

What’s Next?

Once you’ve completed the initial registration process, you’ll be able to see a chart ranking your performance on each challenge. The chart will be updated once every month, so you’ll have a chance to check your progress and see how you’re performing against other students.

If you manage to climb the leaderboard, you’ll be able to see which challenge led to your success. Furthermore, if you complete all the challenges in the first month, you’ll be able to enter a special code, which will award you with a $20 Google Play gift card. This is a one-time only offer, so don’t forget about it!

If you’re looking for more information about digital marketing, I’d recommend you check out this useful guide by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). It’s a must-read for anyone who is interested in the subject matter.